WEB EX: Bloodhound saved friends lost in TN woods - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

WEB EX: Bloodhound saved friends lost in TN woods

MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – We are celebrating a SUPER HOUND! Her name is Cheyenne, and rescuers credit her with saving a Mid-South teenager and his friend after the two got lost in the woods of Fayette County.

Action News Five shared the rescue live as breaking news that day, and now it's Cheyenne's turn in the spotlight as the two guys she tracked down reunite with her for the first time.

Cheyenne the search dog has spent her entire life solving crimes and saving lives. Some might call it a thankless job. Not on this day.

For the first time since their rescue from the woods, Cody Hanford and Justin Willingham came face to face with the dog that saved their lives.

"It's so good to see you! Again!" said Hanford. "Thank you so much."

The two friends lost their way in July while geocaching in the wilderness of Fayette County.

After an overnight search turned up nothing, Cheyenne the bloodhound was brought in for her sense of smell, thousands of times more powerful than a human's.

Two hours later, mission accomplished.

Cheyenne's trainers from Search Dogs South swabbed the seats on Willingham's vehicle.  The blood hound picked up the scent and off she went into the woods, through a muddy swamp and right to her target.

"About 90 percent plus of the training is for the handler, very little is for the dog because they know what to do," said Bob Weible with Search Dogs South.

Search Dogs South provides K-9 rescue services to law enforcement agencies within a 250 mile radius around Memphis.      

Cheyenne is one of the many dogs they have trained to find people and evidence. 

Their first crime scene investigation in 2000 resulted in three life without parole convictions for murder.

There are a lot of happy endings like this one. 

"Thanks to the dog we're doing fine," Willingham said when asked how he was doing.

The scars of Hanford and Willingham's frightening 36 hour odyssey have begun to heal.

"We have bad scratches and things like that but they just barely remain now," said Willingham.

The story of their rescue has begun to sink in.

"Cheyenne came out and she was like, back up everybody, I got this," Hanford said.

"Nothing we can do to thank her for what she did, or what this group does actually," Willingham added.

Cheyenne rarely gets to meet the people she finds because they often need immediate medical attention.

Some of them do not want to be found. Others do not survive.

"This is really something to be able to see them and know that they're okay and everything's good," said Paulette Weible.

Hanford and Willingham are grateful to be around for a photo op with the four-legged hero who won their hearts, by a nose.

Search Dogs South also provides pet therapy at local nursing homes. Right now there are 8 dogs on the team, mostly labs and bloodhounds. Search Dogs South is supported by donations and volunteers.

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